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Written by Aleksei Marchyn
The Venerable Master Kao
The Venerable Master Kao is protagonist’s grandfather and a head of the Kao family. He is a rather stern and severe man, who possesses the whole authority. Although his rebellious grandson considers him to be “an irritable old stick”, he admits that the Venerable Master Kao “must have been a dashing sort” when he was young. The old man says that he is a Confucianist.
Chueh-hsin or Big Brother is a brother of Chueh-hui and Chueh-min. His position is the Kao family is higher than of Chueh-min’s or Chueh-hui, because Chueh-hsin is the eldest son of the eldest son. After the Venerable Master Kao, he is supposed to be the second most powerful person in the Kao family. Kindness and willingness to be a victim of a situation makes him stick to a policy of non-resistance.
The Eldest Young Miss
The Eldest Young Miss is a sister of Chueh-hsin, Chueh-min and Chueh-hui. Although she dies young, others remember her kindness. For instance, it was the Eldest Young Miss who taught Ming-feng to read.
Chueh-min is an elder brother of Chueh-hui and a younger brother of Chueh-hsin. He is less aggressive and rebellious, than Chueh-hui, for he is more interested in his personal life than in revolutions and the enlightenment of the nation. Chueh-min is proud that he manages to escape a marriage with a granddaughter of the Feng. His love for his cousin Chin is strong enough, so that he could let his “beloved, good younger brother” go to Shanghai alone.
Chueh-hui is a protagonist of the novel. He is a rebel, who is rather dissatisfied with his family and the society he lives in. Chueh-hui dreams about great changes both in the society and the family and is greatly involved in students’ movements. Chueh-hui is fond of progressive ideas and refuses to comply with wishes of his family. Notwithstanding the fact that he has a nickname the Humanitarian, Chueh-hui could be rather rude and cruel. He is surely courageous, but not exactly sympathetic.
Chen Chien-yun is a distant relative of the Kao family. He is a tutor of the Wang children. Chueh-min and Chueh-bui consider him to be a weak and annoying person. The reason of their dislike is Chen Chien-yun’s love for their cousin Chin.
Madam Chou is a stepmother of Chueh-hsin, Chueh-min and Chueh-hui.
Mrs. Chang is an aunt of Chueh-hsin, Chueh-min and Chueh-hui and a mother of Chin. Although Mrs. Chang is not very supportive of new ideas which her daughter seems to worship, she allows Chin to attend the school. After Mei’s death, Mrs. Chang decides that she doesn’t want her daughter to repeat Mei’s tragedy and doesn’t forces Chin to marry without love.
Chin is a cousin of Chueh-hsin, Chueh-min and Chueh-hui and a daughter of Mrs. Chang. Being both beautiful and vivacious, she is adored by Chueh-min and Chueh-hui. The girl is clever and dreams about continuing her study. Later on, she and Chueh-min fall in love.
Hsu Chien-ju is a classmate of Chin. She is the first girl who summons enough courage to cut her hair.
Jui-chueh is a wife of the eldest brother Chueh-hsin. She is enormously kind and sensitive. Being forced to marry Chueh-hsin without any chance to meet him before a wedding, she turns out to be a devoted and understanding wife. Jui-chueh befriends Mei, who helps her to dull pain after the loss of her sister.
Mrs. Chien is a mother of Mei and an aunt of Chueh-hsin, Chueh-min and Chueh-hui. Several years ago she and Mrs. Chou separate Chueh-hsin and Mei, forcing them to marry other people.
Mei is a cousin of Chueh-hsin, Chueh-min and Chueh-hui. She and Chueh-hsin have been in love since childhood. Unlike Chueh-hsin, Mei is not happy in her marriage. After her husband’s death, she comes back home. She meets Chueh-hsin again and understands that their love is still alive. Mei dies of a broken heart and an illness she doesn’t tell her mother about.
Ming-feng is a bondmaid of the Kao family. She and Chueh-hui are in love, but they both understand that there is a wall between them. Chueh-hui is too involved in students’ movements to notice that Ming-feng’s life comes to its end. This 17-year-old girl decides to commit a suicide, when she finds out that she is going to be a concubine.
Wan-erh is a bondmaid of the Kao, who replaces Ming-feng and becomes a concubine of the Venerable Master Kao’s friend.
Mistress Chen is a concubine of Venerable Master Kao. After the Venerable Master Kao’s death, she inherits the compound.
Ke-ting is an uncle of Chueh-hsin, Chueh-min and Chueh-hui. He is a gambler and a man of low moral qualities.
Ke-ming is an uncle of Chueh-hsin, Chueh-min and Chueh-hui.
Mama Huang is a maid of Chueh-min and Chueh-hui. The old woman loves both of them like a mother.
Hui-ju and Huang Tsun-jen
Hui-ju and Huang Tsun-jen are co-editors of the Dawn and friends of Chueh-min and Chueh-hui.
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